Old Fort Niagara invites the public to take a break from cabin fever and head to the fort for a full day of winter fun and living history on Saturday, Feb. 17, when staff, volunteers and re-enactors present the "Winter Woods Battle." The day's demonstrations start at 10 a.m. and include fur trading, shelter building, fire starting, weaponry, foodways, winter games, artisans and snowshoeing (or hiking) to a battle in the woods with complimentary hot chocolate with the re-enactors.
"This event is a fun way to learn how the fort's garrison survived the long, cold winters in the 1700s through a combination of indoor and outdoor activities," said Robert Emerson, executive director of the Old Fort Niagara Association. "Come and enjoy mingling with re-enactors while experiencing history by playing a game, working with flint and steel, or snowshoeing to a battle in the woods where, afterwards, a fire and hot chocolate will warm you up."
In addition to the activities, a hearty 18th-century meal and warm drinks will be for sale in the log cabin onsite.
Schedule of Activities
Unless otherwise listed, everything is included with regular admission to the fort, which is $12 for adults, $8 for children ages 6-12, free for children ages 5 and under, and free for Old Fort Niagara Association members.
- 10 a.m. to Noon: "A Winter's Project: Hornsmithing and Leather Work." Learn about the usefulness of horns, antlers and leather in creating tools and goods for soldiers and civilians.
- 10 a.m. to noon: Winter games. Play an 18th-century game with instruction by staff and volunteers.
- 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.: "Food on the Frontier." Demonstrations and talks about the garrison's winter diet, plus procuring, storing and cooking food.
- 10:15 a.m.: Musket firing. Learn about the musket, how it was loaded, its accuracy and how it was used at the fort.
- 11 a.m.: Fur trading demonstration: Demonstrations and hands-on activities about the workings of the 18th-century fur trade on the Great Lakes. Learn about the Great Lakes' earliest business enterprise, the lives of Native Americans and hivernants (winter traders), and examine popular trade goods and furs.
- 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: 18th-century meal for sale in the Log Cabin.
- 11:15 a.m.: Musket firing.
- 11:30 a.m.: "Winter Survival in the Fort and on the Trail." How did the garrison survive the cold both indoors and out? Learn about clothing, bedding and equipment that helped them get through the winter.
- Noon: Start a fire with flint and steel.
- 12:15 p.m.: Musket firing.
- 12:30 p.m.: Shelter building. Use branches to learn how to make a shelter to help protect yourself from the elements.
- 1 p.m.: Tinsmithing. Make and take a tin ornament.
- 1:15 p.m.: Musket firing.
- 1:30 p.m.: "The History of the Snowshoe." Join educators from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to learn about the history of the snowshoe.
- 2 p.m.: "The Expedition." Visitors will be invited to wear a pair of traditional wooden snowshoes (weather permitting) to accompany French soldiers into the woods in search of the English. Witness a winter woods battle and enjoy complimentary hot chocolate. Note: This is a two-mile hike. Be sure you are physically up to it before embarking. Activities in the fort will continue for those who prefer to remain in garrison. Snowshoes are provided first-come, first-served, or bring your own.
- 2 p.m.: Fur-trading demonstration.
- 2-3:30 p.m.: "A Winter's Project: Hornsmithing and Leather Work"
- 2-3:30 p.m.: Winter games.
- 2:15 p.m.: Musket firing.
- 3:15 p.m.: Musket firing.
- 4 p.m.: Musket firing.
Among the many volunteers participating in this event and sharing their knowledge with the public: Brant's Volunteers, Hoisington Rangers, New York Provincials, Schuyler's Company and Shroth's New York Company re-enacting units.
Old Fort Niagara (www.oldfortniagara.org
) is a Registered National Historic Landmark and New York State Historic Site operated by the Old Fort Niagara Association, a not-for-profit organization, in cooperation with State Parks. The site is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Gates close 30 minutes after the last ticket sale.